Lotsa great stuff in the pipeline this week, including the latest effort from a much-deserved Grammy winner who, regrettably, has never gotten her proper due from the record-buying public. I probably won’t be able to change that with one measly paragraph inside the Buzz’s record store report. But I can damn well try.


Head on over to your local Target store this week, as Bravo has teamed up with the retail giant to release exclusive DVD season sets of some of their most-watched series, including their insanely popular Real Housewives franchise, Flipping Out, Top Chef, and Kathy Griffin’s riotous My Life on the D-List. A was particularly agog about this promotion, because while on a transcontinental JetBlue flight some time back, he got sucked into watching a four-hour marathon of a Bravo program entitled Million Dollar Listing, which follows three egocentric, young, ridiculously telegenic real estate agents as they wheel and deal their way through the mega-intense shark tank that is the greater Los Angeles housing market. I am man enough to admit that I was enormously dubious when he first told me about this show, because as a man who openly detests television — and simplistic, slickly edited reality television, at that! — A is not at all within eighteen miles of Bravo’s target demographic, but having now watched four of the six episodes which comprise Listing‘s second season — the DVD set of which is available as part of the aforementioned Target promotion — I can attest that this is a fabulous, fascinating program. (And having just bought a house last year, I can testify that all the minutiae contained therein — the haggling, the negotiating, the whittling down of purchase price, the endless inspections — are not exaggerated in the slightest for the benefit of television.) If you’re at all curious about the madcap world of high-end real estate, this is definitely worth a look-see, and I wish to take this opportunity to publicly thank A (of all people!) for bringing it to my attention.

Last night’s installment of Fox’s super-charged smash series Glee — cheekily entitled
The Power of Madonna, as it was constructed around (and featured exclusively) the music of the Material Girl — was one of the most hyped, most promoted, most-discussed hours of television I can ever remember having lived through, and for the most part, it didn’t disappoint: sure, this cast, supremely talented though they are, was fighting a losing battle taking on Madonna’s iconic and revelatory vocal work on “Like a Prayer,” but I found their mash-up of “Borderline” and “Open Your Heart” to be exceedingly clever, as was the inspired all-male rendition of the forgotten classic “What It Feels Like for a Girl,” and I’m certain the “Like a Virgin” montage, which was expertly woven into the show’s continuing storylines, will stand among my favorite moments in Glee history. And if you’re already itching to relive the mem’ries, the seven-song companion EP is in stores now.

Even though by that time she had already released four critically acclaimed country albums and been something of a stalwart in Nashville for well over a decade, the incredible Shelby Lynne experienced what could be considered her true commercial breakthrough — and won a Best New Artist for her trouble — with 2000’s spectacular
I Am Shelby Lynne. But then a funny thing happened on the way to superstardom: Lynne’s follow-up albums — to a note, all of them fiery and terrific — failed to connect on a mass level, and she returned to toiling away in relative obscurity. Miss Shelby is back this week with a brilliant, bare-bones new record, Tears, Lies, and Alibis, and if you’re not aware of her contributions to the ether through which we are all stumbling clumsily, it’s high time you got educated. (Also, be aware that the Barnes and Noble version of Alibis contains a bonus track.)

Also noteworthy this week:


  • I accidentally skipped over this one last week, but Tony-nominated Legally Blonde star Laura Bell Bundy — who, with all due respect to whatever else lands on her resume, will always and forever be to me that hopelessly ditzy airhead Marah Lewis from “Guiding Light” — is now a country singer, and her debut effort is called Achin’ and Shakin’.

  • One man band Aqualung gets able assistance from Sara Bareilles and A Fine Frenzy on his fourth album, Magnetic North.

  • After several ambitious flights of fancy — an opera, a note-for-note Judy Garland concert reenactment — the flamboyantly brilliant Rufus Wainwright goes back to basics with his latest album,
    All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu.

  • Her fun, frisky debut, Made of Bricks, sadly got lost in the Duffy/Adele-driven whirlwind a couple of years back, but British pop star Kate Nash is back with a sophomore outing, My Best Friend is You.

  • The fabulous blues virtuoso Jonny Lang returns from a four-year hiatus with a new concert recording, Live at the Ryman.

  • A trio of terrific motion pictures from last year’s Oscar derby makes landfall on DVD this week, including:


    • Crazy Heart, featuring superlative performances from Jeff Bridges (an Academy Award winner for his scorching work as a down-on-his-luck troubadour) and Sherry Ann’s she-ro Maggie Gyllenhaal (Oscar-nominated as a small-time journalist who unwittingly ends up in way over her head after she manages to wrangle an interview with the reclusive singer).

    • The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson’s underappreciated adaptation of Alice Sebold’s beloved modern classic novel. (True enough, Jackson fails to completely capture the haunting mood and spirit of the book, despite rip-roaringly fine performances from Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as the murderer next door and Saorise Ronan as his latest victim, and he botches the novel’s pitch-perfect final scene — although, to be fair, that scene probably wasn’t filmable in a way that would prove satisfactory as a cinematic experience — but the effects are utterly amazing, and the story remains both devastating and triumphant.)

    • James Cameron’s record-shattering smash Avatar, the highest-grossing film in Hollywood history.

  • And finally, also from the DVD front: the debut season of one of my favorite television series everFalcon Crest, the quintessentially ’80s tale of intimacy and intrigue in California’s Napa Valley wine region which was toplined by Susan Sullivan, Robert Foxworth, Lorenzo Lamas, and the peerless screen legend Jane Wyman — makes its long-awaited debut this week, and even though it didn’t really get great until much later in its nine-year run, we MUST support this to ensure that every season will be released.

1 response to “flyin’ through the linin’ of a silver cloud
(or: april 20 — a thumbnail sketch)”

  1. the buzz from A.:

    I can’t really explain why I got hooked on Million Dollar Listing (you already got the how), but a show that takes place in the greater Los Angeles area — with its sweeping views of the Pacific coast, the Hollywood hills, and palatial homes — and stars smart, ambitious, beautiful, young guys — though Chad’s garlic-like coiffure (yes, it’s not just a haircut) may disqualify him from that description — already has two things going for it. Add the unique (though not necessarily likable) personalities of the three stars, including their relationships and personal dilemmas (when was the last time you heard the word “polyamorous” on TV?), the truly broad array of clients, and the rather fascinating minutiae of high-stakes residential real estate, and you’ve got a show that entertains on so many different levels.

    Having seen only Season 3 of the show last year, I was absolutely delighted to find Season 2 on our kitchen counter last week, and I already can’t wait for Season 4. Now, if you get hooked on this show as a result of this post, please don’t forget who got you there. (This may be the first time ever that I got Brandon hooked on a TV show!)

    Finally, a word on Glee: last night Brandon treated me to the Glee Sing-Along, enjoyed from a private balcony of the Alamo Drafthouse! It was absolutely fantastic. As is Glee.